Sander Joon Sander Joon

In this series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.

This week’s subject is Estonian animator Sander Joon, whose work feature absurdist scenarios with bold minimalist design and stylish abstract animation.

In a sentence: Combines that unique brand of Estonian comedy and graphic design to create surrealist landscapes and scenarios that often touch upon moments of human frailty.

Where to start: Velodrool (2015). Made at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Joon’s debut is a hand-drawn, rapid-fire work about a chain smoker who decides to enter a rather bizarre cycling race so he can get more smokes. Melding loose, colorful, sketchy designs with scenarios that seem right out of Monty Python or Kids in the Hall (e.g., the snot-nosed kid in the crowd, who cuts the back wheels from the racing bikes with a pair of kitchen scissors, forcing the cyclists to perform on unicycles, is an inspired moment of insanity), Velodrool is a wonderfully paced and entertaining piece of hilarity. In one fell swoop, Joon pays tribute to cycling while musing on the absurd lengths drug addicts will go to get their fix.

What to watch next: Sounds Good (2018) is a trippy tale of a boom operator who struggles in his attempt to record the sound of mushrooms. Minimalist graphics, absurd scenarios, and an appropriately bizarre soundtrack – all the ingredients for an engaging and mystifying experience

Other key works: Moulinet (2017), Rick and Morty Exquisite Corpse (2017)

Influences: David O’Reilly, Priit Pärn, Atsushi Wada

Says: “For me, a good film brings something new and unexpected to the field, be it either form or a story. When talking about shorts, I feel like filmmakers often take it as a stepping stone to make a feature film. I think they miss out on the chance to go crazy and experiment with their ideas. With shorts, the audience is more open to unclear plots than with feature films.”

Currently working on: Joon’s latest film, Sierra (2022), a hilarious piece of surreality (with moments of poignancy) about a boy, his father and auto racing, recently started what is sure to be a long festival run. The film has already screened at Clermont-Ferrand, Regard, GLAS, and the Glasgow Short Film Festival.

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is a writer and Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). Robinson has authored thirteen books including Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation (2006), Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin (2008), and Japanese Animation: Time Out of Mind (2010). He also wrote the screenplay for the award-winning animation short, Lipsett Diaries.

More in Know Your Indie Filmmaker:

Latest News from Cartoon Brew